Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Ratings (out of five): *** 1/2
The wonderful Raro Video is single-handedly reminding the world that the Italian crime director Fernando Di Leo once existed. Last year they released a wonderful four-disc box set of Di Leo films (with a Blu-Ray set added just a month ago). The company has also been releasing some of Di Leo's screenwriting efforts for other directors, notably the awesome Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976).
Now comes Young, Violent, Dangerous (Liberi Armati Pericolosi) (1976), directed by Romolo Guerrieri. Though it has an equally crazy title, it's distinctly different in tone. This one is more cautionary, and comes with a little bit of conscience.
A pretty girl, Lea (Eleonora Giorgi) goes to the police to warn them that her boyfriend and his two pals are planning to knock over a gas station; she wants to stop them before they get into trouble. Unfortunately the cops bungle the job, things get out of hand, and the buddies drive away with three corpses in their wake. In an attempt to stay ahead of the law, the boys steal cars and money and kill more people.
At one point, they even kidnap Lea. Her boyfriend Luis (Max Delys) wears a perpetual shocked look, passively taking orders from the quiet, commanding "Blondie" (Stefano Patrizi). The third friend is the cackling loose cannon Joe/Giovanni (Benjamin Lev).
Between shootings and car chases, these four battle it out on a psychological field. Lea gives Luis the evil eye, hoping to spur him into acting like a man, and Blondie continually tries to strip Luis' manhood away. ("Looks like you left her your balls the last time you had sex," he says.) Blondie even pretends to have sex with Lea in a field to try to deter a searching helicopter; Luis watches helplessly from under cover.
This stuff is all great but director Guerrieri -- presumably not Di Leo, whose other films generally don't come with morals -- adds an after-school special mentality, as if to warn all young audience members not to engage in this kind of behavior. Every act has a kind of mortality to it, as if all the players know this is going to end badly. Some of them, like Joe (or Giovanni, depending on the translation), simply laugh it away, while Luis looks eternally worried.
The biggest star here is Tomas Milian, who is top-billed, but plays a mostly ineffective police commissioner, who can only shake his head at the boys' preposterous behavior. Perhaps it deserves head-shaking. It's certainly not the cathartic stuff we usually get from Di Leo, but it does have its moments.
Raro's DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, and a biography and filmography for director Guerrieri. A DVD-Rom extra includes a booklet with a critical analysis of the film. The picture is remastered and with new English subtitles, but for some reason, it does not appear to be anamorphic.
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